To Kill A Mockingbird: Educational or Insensitive?


Still scene from the 1962 film To Kill a Mockingbird directed by Robert Mulligan courtesy of United Archives

Schools across the United States have been determining whether or not to remove books like To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn from the district’s core reading list. These books have been found offensive by parents of the students who reading them in class.

A school district in Burbank, Burbank Unified School District, has paused teachings of these books and is determining if they are going to remove them from the district’s core reading list. They have been deemed offensive by parents, students, and some teachers due to the language that is inside of the books. These books have been a key part in English class for many years and have been taught in schools all across America.

Kathy Glassmier, an English teacher at Cam High, said, “I do not think banning books or removing books from core literature lists solely based on an offensive word or scene is a wise decision because part of students’ education should be grappling with difficult issues and uncomfortable ideas. I do think there needs to be a balance. Schools need to include books by diverse authors and offer students a fuller, more accurate understanding of literature, our country’s history, our cultural heritage and the larger world”.

These books are part of middle school and high school education because they showcase the importance of never giving up even when it seems unlikely that the pursuit of justice and moral righteousness seems impossible.

Cam High freshmen, Jordan Salonga, said, “I believe that it something that needs to be taught because it talks about the Great Depression and segregation back in that time.”

Many teachers and students enjoy these books due to the lessons they teach and their relevant depiction of historical time periods.

A parent of a Cam High student who preferred to be anonymous, said, “If others feel that it is offensive to them, I feel it would not be that hard to just take them out, but to keep the book.” This is an option that some school districts are discussing instead of just completely taking away the book from being able to be read.

Although there is foul language in these texts, it serves to show how humanity has made moral progress in the United States and the world. We have made it so these words are no longer acceptable in today’s communities. These books also show us that society is constantly evolving, and it is important to teach kids and teens about the importance of change in order to make a positive impact in the world.